The Louisville Cardinals host the Michigan State Spartans tonight at the KFC Yum! Center as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Louisville is 2-2 in the challenge since joining the ACC in 2014, including a 71-67 loss at Michigan State in 2015.
Michigan State (5-1) is coming off a Las Vegas Invitational championship, where the Spartans earned two wins over UCLA and Texas. The only loss of the season so far came to Kansas at the Champions Classic earlier this month. They are led by Josh Langford (18.5 ppg), Cassius Winston (18.0 ppg, 7.5 apg) and Nick Ward (13.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg). Michigan State is ranked 9th in the AP poll and 8th in the coaches poll.
The Cards (3-2) play their first game since returning from Brooklyn, where they lost to both Tennessee and Marquette. Louisville had a good showing at the NIT Season Tipoff, but came home with nothing to show for it. The loss to Marquette was heartbreaking and controversial, but it was the kind of game that this team needs to win if it plans on playing in the NCAA tournament.
This is Coach Mack’s first big test at home, so we’ll see if they can pull off the upset tonight. It’s not an impossible task; Michigan State is highly ranked but has looked vulnerable at times this season. With a loss tonight, Louisville would fall to 3-3 before the start of December. A win tonight would go a long way in March; this is exactly the type of win last season’s team was missing on Selection Sunday.
The game tips off at 7:30 and will be televised live on ESPN. Michigan State is favored by 5.5 points.
Ben: Louisville 83 – Michigan State 80
Mitch: Louisville 78 – Michigan State 74